I read the history of the Society in the commemorative edition of World Aquaculture magazine (December 2018). It is a memorable issue and mandatory reading not only for enthusiasts of modern aquaculture history but also for those who seek to actively participate in management of the Society.

When I started my activities with WAS about 20 years ago, I encountered an already mature society, with international representation, established goals, recognized publications, numerous members and a well-structured board of directors and home office. The scientific programs and exhibition events were already expressive and referenced world aquaculture, thanks mainly to the performance of the Executive Director. It is no wonder, then, that reading Robert Stickney’s article captivated me instantly as it followed the incredible unfolding of the aspirations of a few visionaries who founded the small World Mariculture Society to the maturity of the World Aquaculture Society as it stands today. Fifty years ago, industrial aquaculture was still in its infancy. We are proud to see how much WAS has contributed to its strengthening through its commitment to be the main channel of communication among the various segments that integrate the activity.

Even tastier are the reflections of the more than thirty Past-Presidents, who narrate with elegance and geniality the most remarkable accomplishments of their tenures. Each one reflects their peculiar professional background and personalities but the statements also reveal the basics that have guided the Society since its founding. I was delighted by the history behind the initial idealism; the professionalism and internationalization acquired over the years; the selflessness of voluntary work; the recognition that each achievement is due more to the sum of efforts than to personal commitment; and the demonstrations of friendship that bonds the enthusiasts of seafood production around the world.

I am fortunate to be President of WAS at the time of its 50th anniversary and to actively participate in the celebrations that will be held throughout 2019. It was an immense honor to shake hands with the Past-Presidents and founding members of the Society at the celebration especially planned for them, not only in recognition of their long contribution to WAS, its chapters, conferences and publications, but also for their distinguished efforts to strengthen aquaculture in the most diverse regions of the planet.

Turning now to plans for the future, I have appointed an ad hoc committee to start developing the new WAS Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. The Committee is chaired by Mike Denson and brings together experienced management professionals, and representatives from academia, industry and extension in aquaculture, covering various regions of the world. I encourage WAS members to reflect on the ways they want the Society to walk in the future and send their suggestions to the Committee Chair or to me. WAS is here to pave the roads leading to the advancement of science and world aquaculture production and also to serve its membership. There are many benefits that WAS and its chapters can offer such as the communication of new knowledge, technologies and inputs through publications, conferences, workshops, and tradeshows; opportunities for education, training and work; the possibility to participate on the board and chapters; and be a part of the largest worldwide aquaculture network.

The Journal of the World Aquaculture Society has played a central role in the dissemination of scientific information that has underpinned the growth of aquaculture in recent decades. Throughout its fifty years, the journal has suffered ups and downs, but it has always published quality scientific articles on a variety of essential disciplines in support of aquaculture development around the world. The recent revitalization process that JWAS has been undertaking has already resulted in considerable improvement in scientific quality, reflected by an increase in the journal’s impact factor and in the number of authors who are looking to JWAS as the first option for disseminating their research.

With the recent formation of the African Chapter, we have begun a series of meetings, workshops and conferences that are being planned for the next few years. In January 2019, WAS sponsored the International Conference on Aquatic Resources and Aquaculture for Sustainable Development (ICAR-AQUA 2019) at Hawassa University in Ethiopia. The meeting was organized by the Department of Biology and Center for Rift Valley Studies, both from Hawassa University, and sponsored by WAS, Ethiopian-Netherland Trade for Agricultural Growth (ENTAG) and Volta Breams Limited, Ghana. The meeting was attended by about 200 participants from 15 countries. Representing WAS were Bill Daniels (Past-president and keynote speaker), Sherif Sadek (African Chapter Interim President, invited speaker) and myself (invited speaker). I was glad to be part of such a well-organized conference, which brought together 15 invited speakers and 13 presentations by international scientists, in addition to 19 presentations from Ethiopian researchers. The country is promising for aquaculture growth as it presents favorable environmental conditions, rich water resources and fish biodiversity; therefore, initiatives such as the ICARAQUA 2019 certainly will contribute to promote the activity in the country and in Africa.

Closing this column and my presidential term, I would like to say that, although it has been only seven months, several achievements have been fulfilled, detailed in my previous column. However, as emphasized by several Past-Presidents, accomplishments are the result of efforts that started in previous administrations. Likewise, the current board has started initiatives that will be followed-up during the presidential terms that follow. I wish Jimmy Avery success in his presidential period. Here I take leave as President of WAS and take on the position of Immediate Past-president, joining the honorable group of Past-Presidents of the World Aquaculture Society.
— Maria Célia Portella, Immediate Past-President